Monthly Archives: January 2010

40′s movies marathon – part 67

Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night (1945, UK) – A group of people share stories about their encounters with the supernatural.  Everything Ealing Studios touches, even horror, turns to gold.  My favourite story is about the ventriloquist’s evil dummy, a cliché today, but this is the earliest use I’ve seen of it in a movie, and it’s wonderfully creepy.  In fact, this is possibly the first really good, scary horror movie.  Watched it all.

The White Gorilla (1945, USA, Fraser) – In deepest, darkest Africa, a white boy commands a savage tribe, and a white gorilla is the most fearsome beast of the jungle.  White traders investigate these strange events.  What could it all mean?  Watched: 9 minutes.

Perfect Strangers (1945) - Robert Donat, Deborah Kerr

Perfect Strangers (1945, UK, Korda) – Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr are a delicate married couple who gets pushed around by everybody.  The war separates them, forces them to become more wordly and confident, and when they are finally reunited they have been reborn as a new breed of Englishman, ready to rebuild their country – and their own marriage – as a union between equals.  Watched it all.

Yolanda and the Thief (1945, USA, Minnelli) – In the fictional land of Patria, where everything is lovely and technicolorful, naive heiress Lucille Bremer takes control of her family empire.  This movie is proof of what can happen when you uncritically pour a shitload of money into a musical.  Watched: 20 minutes, then fast forwarded through all the bizarre scenes, of which this one is actually pretty good:

Oslo bør også innføre rushtidsavgift

Eirik Løkke skriver i Minerva at Bergen bør innføre rushtidsavgift.  Det er bra for pendlerne, bra for luftkvaliteten, og bra for økonomien.

De samme argumentene gjelder i Oslo.  Når du kjører bil i rushtiden påfører du andre reisende – også de kollektivreisende – en kostnad mot deres vilje.  Ved å prise den knappe ressursen byasfalt er om morgenen og ettermiddagen føres denne kostnaden tilbake på bilistene som forårsaker den. De betaler i større grad den fulle prisen for sin egen bilkjøring – i stedet for å tvinge andre reisende til å subsidere seg.

Når jeg nevner rushtidsavgift for folk som kjører bil kommer samtalen fort over på alle de stakkars foreldrene som må kjøre barna i barnehagen.  Sant nok, men når jeg kikker ut av bussvinduet på en fastlåst kø ser jeg lite til disse barna i baksetet.  De aller fleste bilene har ingen passasjerer i det hele tatt. Og om det er noen foreldre med barn på vei til barnehagen der, så tror jeg de også ville satt pris – bokstavelig talt – på å komme fortere fram.

Å kjøre bil i storby er rett og slett å misforstå hva en by er for noe.  Det er litt som å forvente å finne en enebolig med stor hage midt i sentrum.

Å bygge flere veier hjelper ikke, for da kommer det straks flere biler.  Det eneste som hjelper er at folk slutter å sløse med andres tid, og setter seg på bussen, trikken eller t-banen.  Da er rushtidsavgift et godt sted å begynne.

40′s movies marathon – part 66

The famous sword bijomaru (1945)

Meito bijomaru (1945, Japan, Mizoguchi) – An apprentice blacksmith makes a fragile sword that destroys the lives of everyone he loves.  Crushed, he vows to make the perfect sword, a sword with soul that, in the hands of a vengeful woman (naturally!), will make everything right again.  Watched it all.

A Song to Remember (1945, USA, Vidor) – Frederic Chopin was young once too, and faced adversity etc.  Watched: 6 minutes.

Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (1945) - Susumu Fujita

Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (1945, Japan, Kurosawa) – A judo master gets drawn into the seedy world of American boxing, a barbaric sport for a barbaric people.  Watched it all.  This is a terrible movie, (or maybe it’s just the translation, which seems to have gone through Chinese at some point), but it’s fun to see Western stereotypes in a Japanese movie.

Lady on a Train (1945, USA, David) – The lady on the train sees a murder in a house they pass.  I expect she’ll set out to solve it herself because the police won’t listen, or something stupid like that.  Watched: 5 minutes.

Appointment in Tokyo (1945)

Appointment in Tokyo (1945, USA, Hively) – American war propaganda was remarkably restrained, which is not what I expected.  There was plenty of patriotic emotions, (and justifiably so), but little outrageous.  The main exception was their portrayal of the sinister Japs, as in this documentary about the last years of the war in the Pacific.  Watched it all.

Strange Holiday (1945, USA, Oboler) – Some guy rants into the camera about his poor poor children, for at least 9 minutes.  Watched: 9 minutes.

Jess, litt kulturdebatt igjen

Interessant debatt hos Eirik Newth om Siv Jensens kritikk av et noe absurd utslag av innkjøpsordningen.  Kulturminister Anniken Huitfeldt har skrevet barnebok om Gro Harlem Brundtland, som nå skal vurderes for innkjøp til landets biblioteker av en komite nedsatt av nettop Kulturdepartementet.

Newth har sittet i komiteen det er snakk om, og går god for at de er nøytrale og faglig dyktige.  Om komiteen skulle velge å akseptere boken er det altså fordi den er god.

Jeg ser det omvendt: Hvis komiteen gjør dette, altså kjøper partipropaganda for barn over et offentlig budsjett, er det et tegn på at de ikke vet hva de driver med.

Foreløpig er dette bare litt mediebråk, og det er ikke så lett å ta barne-TV-aktivist Jensen så seriøst her heller.  Men teft for underholdende kulturutspill, det har de i FrP.

Det virkelige problemet med norske kulturpolitikk er imidlertid ikke at innkjøpsordningen brukes til partipropaganda, (FrP var vel rett og slett heldige her), men at hele det norske kulturlivet i dag føler at de har det offentlige å takke for karrieren sin.  Det bidrar til å temme en gruppe som normalt skal være selvstendige, og gå foran i å tenke og gjøre nye ting.

Som Kristin Clemet skriver går det an å ha kulturstøtte uten kulturdepartement.  Kanskje er det veien å gå.  Og vi bør ikke være redde for tiltak som reduserer kvantiteten i kulturlivet.  Det er ikke der problemet ligger.

40′s movies marathon – part 65

Dillinger (1945) - Lawrence Tierney

Dillinger (1945, USA, Nosseck) – The legend of John Dillinger.  A hard, brutal B-movie that gets everything right.  Watched it all.

Enfants du Paradis (1945, France, Carné) – Various Frenchmen live and work in a street in Paris.  Watched: 21 minutes, at which point a mime who has witnessed a crime tells the police what he saw by miming.  Incredibly, nobody murders him.

Johnny Frenchman (1945) - Françoise Rosay, Tom Walls

Johnny Frenchman (1945, UK, Frend) – Two Cornish and Breton villages are rivals for fishing grounds, but the war brings them together.  It’s all a bit heavy-handed, but I just love that Ealing feeling.  Watched it all.

Blood on the Sun (1945, USA, Lloyd) – James Cagney gets on the bad side of the pre-war Japanese government by revealing their nefarious plans for world domination.  He’s also, highly improbably, some kind of judo master.  Watched: 17 minutes.  IMDB reviewers claim this movie has an anti-racist message, which just goes to show that people will go to any length to find excuses for a movie they enjoy.

Cornered (1945) - Dick Powell

Cornered (1945, USA, Dmytryk) – Dick Powell returns to liberated France to take revenge on the Vichy official who executed his wife.  He goes about it a bit stupidly, especially for the kind of devious noir world he inhabits, but it’s fun to see the birth of the post-war “Nazi in hiding in South America” theme.  Watched it all.

Pride of the Marines (1945, USA, Daves) – If I hear the Marines’ Hymn one more time in a movie, I’ll .. be very tired of it, that’s for sure.  Watched: 12 minutes.

They would never put up with those hats or that accent

There’s always hope.  That’s the message a young ideologue might take from John Campbell’s Margaret Thatcher, Volume One.  If you have ability and convictions, and if you’re willing to play the game of consensus politics for about three decades, and if you’re lucky, and if you know how to use that luck, then you can actually make a difference.

I suspect most people who enter politics want to become the Thatcher of their party.  Someone who plays ball with the political establishment while they must, but are able to keep their actual convictions intact, locked away until the day when they’re the one in charge.  In most cases those convictions are eventually watered out, corrupted or thwarted.  Thatcher used hers to reshape the political landscape.

Campbell doesn’t particularly like Thatcher’s convictions, which were gut-level rather than intellectual.  What he does admire is her total dedication to her profession.  Like other woman pioneers she had to work harder than men to be acknowledged, but the hard work paid off with an unmatched command of the tedious details of politics.  It was obligatory during Thatcher’s early years in Parliament for other M.P.’s to refer condescendingly to her “charm”.  Later .. not so much.

Volume One ends with Thatcher on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street, quoting Francis of Assisi. Campbell points out that the prayer she quoted was not quite as uncharacteristically humble as many took it to be:

Where there is error, may we bring truth.

Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.

40′s movies marathon – part 64

A Bell for Adano (1945, USA, King) – An American major takes over the civil administration of a recently conquered Italian town.  He governs it like Iraq should have been governed 60 years later, and the Americans are treated like they wanted to be treated in Iraq.  There’s an imperial dream hiding beneath the surface here: The dream of the benevolent proconsul who cleans things up.  Watched it all.

The House on 92nd Street (1945, USA, Hathaway) – Rah-rah docudrama about the counter-espionage work of the FBI.  Includes actual footage of people sinisterly walking into and out of Germany’s Washington embassy.  Watched: 8 minutes.

Zombies on Broadway (1945, USA, Douglas) – A gangster wants a real live zombie for the opening show of his new nightclub, and sends two henchmen off to a tropical island to find some.  Old-time zombies are usually pretty lame, but this is actually a perfect little comedy.  Watched it all.

Thrill of a Romance (1945, USA, Thorpe) – A rich guy sees a beautiful woman on the street, and puts all his resources into finding out her name, address and life story.  This being a movie, she doesn’t find this the least bit frightening at all, and they’re practically engaged by the end of the first date.  Watched: 14 minutes.

Place of One’s Own (1945, UK, Knowles) – A boring retired couple moves into a house that has been empty for 40 years, so I guess it’s haunted or something stupid like that.  Watched: 9 minutes.

Playing tennis with Microsoft

My other identity, as a software developer, now has a blog too, along with some of my colleagues.  It’s full of all kinds of strange words, and is not the least bit interesting unless you happen to be a developer who works with something called “SharePoint 2010″, which may be some kind of sci-fi movie, I’m not really sure.  (My other identity would know.)

Do other professions have such a large vocabulary of jargon as programmers have?  Probably, but ours changes faster.  As a programmer you have two options: You can specialize in one technology, and pray that it will stay relevant until you retire, or you can try to stay up to date on the new stuff that’s always happening.

Staying up to date as a programmer is like playing against a frenzied tennis ball machine.  It’s best not to think about it too much, or you’ll realize that it’s impossible to get them all.  Just start hitting.  And don’t ever stop.

In my case the tennis ball machine is called Microsoft, who release interesting new technologies at a frightening pace. The nice thing about living inside the Microsoft sphere is that the people there are a little less preachy than elsewhere.  But they sure get enthusiastic about their new technologies.  I’m no exception.  Hence the blog.

40′s movies marathon – part 63

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945, Japan, Kurosawa) – A group of soldiers who have lost favor with the government try to trick their way past a guard post.  The message is that it’s better to talk your way out of problems than to die gloriously in a futile battle, which sounds like an allegory about defeated Japan.  Watched it all, but they could have done without Jar-Jar.

Pardon My Past (1945, USA, Fenton) – Fresh home from the war, a man stumbles into the old “happens to look like a famous criminal” plot.  Watched: 6 minutes.

Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945, USA, King) – Horses are smart and cute and the best thing in the whole world.  Watched: 5 minutes.

A Royal Scandal (1945, USA, Perminger) – Intrigue at the court of Katherine II of Russia.  The lines are almost worthy of the Marx Brothers.  Watched it all.

Bewitched (1945, USA, Oboler) – A girl has two personalities, and the evil one is struggling to gain control over her.  Corny, but moderately scary.  There have been almost no frightening movies in this marathon so far, not even the so-called “horror” movies.  I wonder why.  Is is the same reason why the comedians aren’t funny?  Watched: 14 minutes.

Circumstantial Evidence (1945, USA, Larkin) – This movie was made to warn us against the dangers of circumstantial evidence.  It says so in a long text at the beginning.  Watched: 2 minutes.